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New cabinet: Ezekwesili opts out

ABUJA— AHEAD of next week’s expected submission of President Goodluck Jonathan’s list of ministerial nominees to the Senate, facts emerged, yesterday, that the former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili was said to have been contacted, but she was not too keen about leaving her World Bank job for Nigeria now.

Her former colleague in the cabinet, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala former Minister of Finance has accepted to serve in the yet to be constituted cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan because of her passion for Nigeria.

Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that Ngozi, a Managing Director of the World Bank bowed to pressure from President Jonathan of the need to come and help him succeed in his drive to reform the economy and the country, even as the President was said to have begged her passionately to accept the job.

While many nominees were working hard to sustain their names on the list, erstwhile finance minister and Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was on her part alleged to have set forth conditions for her to serve in the cabinet.

It was learnt that President Jonathan met with Okonjo-Iweala during his recent visit to the United States where he made the offer to her. SSS officials meanwhile have rebuffed claims that a number of nominees were refused screening by the service.

Advisory body

A source at the SSS said: “Our job is like advisory body. When we get the names, we bring out the file which contains the profile of the nominees and we will ask them questions on anything that we may consider gray in their files.

“None of these people could tell you that they have been passed because none of them was told that he or she succeeded. We report only to the President and in our reports we only say based on a number of reasons, Your Excellency may wish to use this or that person.”

Vanguard, however, learnt, yesterday, that President Jonathan has forwarded the names of the national chairmen of three opposition political parties who lent him support during the recent presidential election won by his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The trio whose names were submitted to the State Security Service, SSS for screening are Chief Edozie Madu of Congress for Democratic Change, CDC; Dan Nwanyanwu, Labour Party, LP; and Mohammed Shittu of the Republican Party of Nigeria.

The submission of these names is reportedly payback time for the parties from the President for adopting him as their presidential candidate before the April Presidential election as well as to pave way for the formation of Government of National Unity, GNU. Meanwhile, there were alleged pressures from the camp of former Federal Information Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark on President Goodluck Jonathan to secure the nomination of erstwhile Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on the list.

Ojougboh’s nomination is being challenged by supporters of Dr. Mrs. Maryam Ali, the wife of a former national chairman of the PDP, Col. Ahmadu Ali, rtd. With the probable nomination of Ojougboh or Mrs. Ali, Delta State could be producing two ministers in the next cabinet of President Jonathan as Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta was one of those originally screened for a ministerial position.

Environment minister edged out

In Cross River State, erstwhile Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey, is believed to have been edge d out of the nomination list by the alleged determination of First Lady Patience Jonathan to produce a female minister of state from the state.

Mr. Fidelis Ugbo, the Secretary to the State Government originally favoured by the PDP machine in the state for the ministerial slot is also said to be on shaky ground.

In Akwa Ibom State, stakeholders are also protesting against the nomination of Bassey Ewa who has been penciled down as the representative from the State. Stakeholders were particularly miffed that Ewa is not known whether within or outside the PDP in Akwa Ibom with some claiming that he may not even be from the State.

The stiff battle for the ministerial slot for Borno State which has pitched erstwhile Minister of Works Senator Sanusi Daggash and PDP National Women’s leader, Hajia Nina Ciroma, and other major stakeholders against one another took a fresh turn with most of the stakeholders joining forces against Tijanni Abubakar who has been screened.

In Gombe State, Senator Abdullahi Idris Umar was screened despite the reported attempt by PDP senior officials in Abuja to secure the state’s slot for the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali. Alkali was reportedly earlier shortlisted for screening but was overtaken by the forces from home who favoured Umar.

Umar may have been favoured for the ministerial position after “willingly” vacating his Senate seat ahead of the last National Assembly election for former Governor Danjuma Goje.

The nomination of the three opposition party national chairmen to the cabinet follows the pre-election support of 23 political parties under the umbrella of Patriotic Electoral Alliance of Nigeria, PEAN for President Jonathan’s election.

PEAN made the declaration of support for the President during the PDP presidential campaign rally in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Alhaji Mohammed Shittu, the National Chairman, Republican Party of Nigeria RPN and National Vice Chairman of PEAN made the announcement on behalf of the coalition. Madu of CDC and Nwanyanwu of LP made similar declarations at different fora prior to the polls.

The ACN on its part insisted that it would neither join nor put obstacle against other opposition parties desiring to join the government.In a telephone interview with Vanguard, Publicity Secretary of ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the party will not impose its position on any other political party adding that it had before now reiterated its position of being part of Jonathan’s cabinet.

His words: “If any political party wants to be part of the all inclusive government of Jonathan, it is free to participate. The ACN is not going to impose its position on other parties; we are not going to run down any party on the basis that it wants to join Jonathan’s government. We have already made our position known on the issue that we are not going to be part of the all inclusive government.”

Meanwhile, the Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed told Vanguard yesterday immediately after the screening exercise at the Department of State Security Service, SSS that his experience there was fine and very interesting.

The Ministerial list so far:

Dr (Mrs.)Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala;

Mary Onyali Omagbemi;

Ms Jumoke Akinjide, Oyo state

Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, Sokoto Alhaji Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, Mairago, Kaduna

Alhaji Nuhu Zagbayi, Niger State

Dr.Mohammed Haliru Bello, Kebbi State Professor Rufai Alkali, Gombe

Dr. Tonye Cole, Hajiya Zainab Maina, Adamawa

Dr.Akinwumi Adefila

Alhaji Bukar Tijjani, Borno

Mr. Mohammed Musa

Mr.Bolaji Abdullahi, Kwara

Alhaji Yerima Ngama, Yobe

Mrs. Ada Okwuonu, Imo state

Elder Godsday Orubebe, Delta

Mrs.Diezani Allison-Madueke, Bayelsa

Professor Bath Nnaji, Enugu

Mr. Mohammed Adoke, Kogi

Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Ebonyi

Mr. Labaran Maku, Nasarawa

Chief Chukwuemeka Ngozi Wogu, Abia

Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Rivers SAN, Senator Bala Mohammed, Bauchi

Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, Ondo

Navy Captain Caleb Olubode, Ekiti

Professor Ruqqayatu Rufai, Jigawa

Obadiah Ando, Taraba State

John Madugu, Plateau

Dr. Shamshudeen Usman, Kano State

Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, Osun State

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